Watkins, Bowen called into England squad as Sterling, Mount

Forwards Ollie Watkins and Jarrod Bowen have returned to the England squad for a friendly against Australia and a Euro 2024 qualifier against Italy but there is again no place for Raheem Sterling.

Manager Gareth Southgate named a 26-man group for the October double-header on Thursday, with uncapped Levi Colwill and Eddie Nketiah again getting the nod.

England host Australia at Wembley on October 13 before taking on defending champions Italy at the same ground on October 17 in a repeat of the European Championship final in 2021.

Watkins, who has not been called up since March last year, returns days after Southgate watched the striker score a hat-trick in Aston Villa’s 6-1 win against Brighton.

Bowen is back in the England fold for the first time since September 2022, having scored five goals in seven league games for West Ham.

Sterling is conspicuous by his absence after Southgate overlooked the 82-cap Chelsea forward, and Mason Mount is also missing despite returning to action with Manchester United.

John Stones returned from injury and Bukayo Saka was selected despite fitness concerns, while Ben Chilwell, Eberechi Eze and Callum Wilson were ruled out.

Harry Maguire and Kalvin Phillips retained their places despite ongoing questions over their playing time, while Jordan Henderson also remained after moving to Saudi Arabia.

Scoring form

“Ollie has started the season well – he’s hit a bit of scoring form in the last couple of weeks,” Southgate said.

“You have to be careful with that because you can’t just go on recency bias with selection.

“But he is in good form … and he’s been with us before so we know his character, his personality – he is a good guy around the group.”

Southgate said he had not spoken with Sterling ahead of his latest omission.

“No, we spoke before the last squad,” he added. “We have been happy with the wide players and performances in the last four games, clearly we have a settled team.

“We have added Jarrod Bowen in those wide areas, he’s scored five in seven games and is playing really well and with the Australia game as well there’s the opportunity to learn some different things as well.”

The England boss said Saka was still being assessed ahead of Arsenal’s Premier League game with Manchester City.

England are top of their Euro 2024 qualifying group, six points clear of Italy, who will play their game in hand against Malta on October 14.

The final matches of the qualifying stage take place in November.

England squad

Goalkeepers: Sam Johnstone (Crystal Palace), Jordan Pickford (Everton), Aaron Ramsdale (Arsenal)

Defenders: Levi Colwill (Chelsea), Lewis Dunk (Brighton), Marc Guehi (Crystal Palace), Harry Maguire (Manchester United), John Stones (Manchester City), Fikayo Tomori (AC Milan/ITA), Kieran Trippier (Newcastle), Kyle Walker (Manchester City)

Midfielders: Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Jude Bellingham (Real Madrid/ESP), Conor Gallagher (Chelsea), Jordan Henderson (Al-Ettifaq/KSA), Kalvin Phillips (Manchester City), Declan Rice (Arsenal)

Forwards: Jarrod Bowen (West Ham), Phil Foden (Manchester City), Jack Grealish (Manchester City), Harry Kane (Bayern Munich/GER), James Maddison (Tottenham), Eddie Nketiah (Arsenal), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Bukayo Saka (Arsenal), Ollie Watkins (Aston Villa)

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